Vintage Neve installed in The Pool

Miloco’s Leroy Street studio, The Pool, was recently the beneficiary of a unique addition to its impressive array of equipment: the item in question — a 24-channel vintage Neve 5315. Miloco Builds engineer Finn Eiles carried out the installation in early March, 2020 with the help of renowned Neve expert, Blake Devitt. 

Originally commissioned by Channel 4 in 1981 for broadcasting purposes, the discrete (i.e. without any integrated circuits), class A, 24 channel Neve 53 series console features 33115 mic pres/EQs, four groups, four auxiliary sends and global phantom. It is also fitted with two 33314 compressors and an Avid Artist Mix in order to provide physical faders for the monitoring of sessions with larger line ups. 

Blake Devitt inspects a 33115 module

Simon Todkill, chief engineer at Miloco, called the investment in the Neve 5315 a “no brainer”:

“We like to keep things fresh in our studios and adapt to what our clients and engineers need, and this was a perfect opportunity. I think that clients who have been using the room for years will love the new set up, and we’re confident people who have yet to use the studio will LOVE the sound and feel of the space.” 

When asked why a vintage Neve, Simon said: “For me it’s all about the sound! Nothing quite compares to the depth and richness of these older Neves: they have a character to them which I think helps tell a story sonically, and they’re just so simple to use! They’re like any great instrument in that once you get your hands on it, you’re almost guided somewhere new. I love the fact that the fader markings are reversed too. In its previous life as a broadcast console, pushing the fader up would decrease the volume! So those are now turned around.”

“It ’s also about having everything at my fingertips,” he adds. “Having the console as opposed to individual modules, I’m able to colour my preamps as I like and then have all control to balance my send to the multi-track, and record a pretty much finished-sounding balance from minute one.”

The fully serviced console constitutes the centrepiece of The Pool’s control room. However, here at Miloco we know that a recording studio is only as good as the sum of its parts; hence, the equally impressive line-up of the complete control room spec.

Recording is done to a Pro Tools HDX rig which comes with an abundance of plug-ins; it is, however, the outboard which makes all the difference. Alongside the 24 channels provided by the Neve console, there is a range of alternative preamps including the likes of API, Chandler, Lomo and GML. There are also over twenty compressors including Lisson Grove, Urei, Tube-Tech, EMI and ADL. Lastly, the monitoring is provided by Augspurger Treo 812 CFM close field monitors, Adam S3as and NS10s. 

The Pool’s live room is perhaps the most inspiring feature of the studio. With nearly 2000 sq ft of creative space, plus towering ceilings, natural light, modern interior design and hue lighting it provides a uniquely inspiring tracking space for artists and producers alike. Here you can find items of the kit that producer Ben Hillier (Depeche Mode, The Maccabees, Nadine Shah) has amassed over the years, including a collection of vintage guitar amps, four drum kits and a range of percussion instruments, a selection of vintage synths, a Wurlitzer 200a, a Fender Rhodes and, not least, a Yamaha Baby Grand piano. Regarded as one of the most versatile live rooms in London, it is widely celebrated for the particular quality of its drum sound. Given what’s on offer, it is hardly surprising that The Pool is highly sought after by smaller string ensembles. 

Todkill is proud that The Pool now caters for orchestral ensemble sessions:

“The Pool is a great space for a small ensemble to record; there’s space for around a 12-16 piece string section comfortably (for example) plus piano, and having the signal chain directly from the mic to the console’s class-A pre amps is one of the purest signal paths possible.”

“The new console has really opened up the studio’s flexibility whilst simplifying things immensely from a user’s perspective,” said Todkill. “But aside from that, the outboard rack now has some great new toys! Lisson Grove AR1, a classic Focusrite Red stereo compressor, a vintage Urei 1176 Rev H, a Manley EQP and a number of other things.”

The first to use The Pool’s Neve console was producer and engineer Matt Wiggins: 

“The arrival of the vintage Neve to The Pool adds even more colour to the already very versatile selection of preamps and EQs,” he enthused. “Coupled with the rare onboard compressors, the desk has an incredibly punchy sound.”

Todkill embraces The Pool’s mixture of vintage and new technology:

“If you want a colour and a character to your sound, you need something that can give you that,” he says. “Digital recording is as clean as you get, so having a great selection of various vintage and colourful toys means your recordings aren’t lacking in ear candy. The Pool is a toyshop! Not to be confused with our other studio, The Toyshop,” he adds.

“There’s such a great collection of drums, synths, pedals and amps, not to mention the size of the space makes it a perfect studio for record production. You can pretty much do anything you want without compromise, which is why we often see artists and bands making EPs, albums and singles in there. That hasn’t changed at all with the new console – it has opened up the studio to clients who are looking for that Class-A British Neve sound!”

Todkill says all the feedback on the new console has all been overwhelmingly positive:

“It’s been AMAZING! People love it. And it even matches the colour of the walls!”

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